The weirdest intros
If you have 30 seconds or less to introduce yourself to your potential soul mate (or at least the person who determined how long your stint on reality TV would last), what kind of impression would you make? If you were wooing a pilot, would you glide in on a huge faux-paper airplane? Would you awkwardly and inarticulately make an off-color joke that you would then clumsily try to explain later? Would you dress as the kind of structure in which this person and his ex spent a passionate night together? It all sounds very stressful, so it seems appropriate to ask: Would you bring along an emotional support animal?
All of those happen Monday night. Three flight attendants join the cast, one of whom tweaks the ubiquitous “Bachelor” cliche to announce that she’s there for “all the flight reasons.” Groan. Another pretends to be a TSA agent, inspecting Peter with a handheld metal detector. One woman (Kelley, 27, a lawyer from Chicago) had met Peter before at a hotel in Los Angeles (she was at a wedding; he was at an after-party for his high school reunion). He claims to recognize her, but we’re skeptical.
But the only intro you need to remember is that Jenna, a 22-year-old nursing student from Illinois — and not the cattle rancher from Fort Worth, mind you! — brings along an emotional support cow named Ashley P. The inclusion of a last initial makes us hopeful that there might be more than one farm animal joining the cast. But alas! Just Ashley P., who’s instantly a fan favorite and unfortunately doesn’t get a rose. New spinoff suggestion for ABC: “Bovines in Paradise.”
The weirdest twist
“The Bachelor” producers love throwing in a twist during the premiere, but this was just confusing. Hannah Brown, last year’s “Bachelorette,” who dumped Peter after he made it to the final three, shows up in the beginning for what seems like an innocent visit: She wants to wish Peter luck on his journey finding his co-pilot (get it?!) and return a small pair of wings that he gave her at the beginning of the season. Sweet, right?
WRONG. Turns out Hannah is actually there to ruin everything. She makes a second appearance at the end of the episode to host a group date and tells the contestants all about her most memorable night with Peter: the famous fantasy suite date when the two had sex four times in a windmill-shaped hotel. The contestants laugh politely but obviously are not psyched to hear this story (again!), even though there have been approximately 800 windmill and “four times” references during the episode.
Minutes later, the camera cuts to a private room, where Hannah is sobbing. She confesses to Peter that she constantly questions her decision to break up with him last season and instead choose Jed, which really backfired when she found out he lied about having a girlfriend before coming on the show. Peter, who looks mostly baffled during this excruciating conversation, says he wished she would have filled him in on these feelings sooner — he was completely heartbroken over her. But now, he has 22 women (im)patiently waiting for him to stop consoling his ex and propose to one of them.
What will Peter do?! Will Hannah take Peter up on his probably insincere offer to join the season? As the TO BE CONTINUED sign tells us, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
The weirdest group date
“Bachelor” contestants leap out of planes, bungee-jump and ride the “Vomit Comet.” But in several seasons of watching this godforsaken show, no women have ever been as scared of a date as the contestants were on Peter’s first group date, which began with a terrifying challenge: math.
The women arrive at an airfield, where two female fighter pilots are tasked with babysitting them. They administer a pop quiz with math problems related to aviation, and for the audience, it produces the gleeful feeling of schadenfreude one gets from watching the question-and-answer portion of a beauty pageant: There is nothing quite like seeing a lovely aspiring model’s vacant eyes grow wide with panic. “I don’t know, I failed math three times in college,” one says. “Ha ha, you dumb-dumbs!” the audience thinks, although it’s not like most of us know off the tops of our heads how many feet are in a mile, either. Either way, one thing is clear: These tough female Blue Angel pilots are too good for this nonsense.
After math class is gym class. The women change into clingy flight suits and participate in an obstacle course that involves wearing inflatable life vests, checking their luggage, and changing into an even sexier pilot costume. In the final leg of the race, pedaling kiddie bikes shaped like planes, Kelley takes a shortcut and beats Tammy, winning a one-on-one flight with Peter. Everyone is mad that the producers let her cheat, causing the absolute pandemonium they surely intended all along.
It’s a good idea to make “Bachelor” contestants solve math problems, and one that should continue in future seasons. It will give them practical skills for their careers. Here’s one: If there are 30 contestants, 12 episodes in a season, and the average contestant hopes to earn $100,000 a year in Instagram-sponsored content, how many fights does each woman have to start to get the appropriate amount of screen time?
The weirdest solo date
The first thing we learn about Madison, a “foster parent recruiter” from Auburn, Ala., is that she is game to play according to the rules that others establish. She was a high school basketball star, and her father, who looms larger in her pre-mansion introductory clip reel than she does, was her coach, apparently leading her to multiple championships. He gives her the playbook; she just follows it.
We have reason to reflect on this later when Peter selects her for the first solo date, bringing Madison to his family home, where his parents are renewing their vows in the backyard.
“I did not expect this at all,” Madison says, and we believe her, because what Peter calls the “very special day” that he has “planned” for “her” is a horrifying thing to spring on someone you’ve just met, someone you’ve just taken to your parents’ home on a first date, someone you’re on a date with while you’re also dating something like 600 other women. (Sorry, we’re not good at math, either.) Vow renewal ceremonies are protracted parodies of the staid ritual that is a wedding, and if Peter expects her to go along with it, it’s presumably because he rightly expects that she’ll already know when to duck and dodge. But he has also subbed her in with an unfamiliar crew, one for whom these stiff formalities must be fully felt and entirely real. In the audience as Peter officiates the ceremony, Madison grimaces and nods like someone who is desperately trying to figure out when she can slip off to some shadowy den in the adjacent house, perhaps to sob in that dry and silent way that suggests not sorrow but a kind of helpless frustration.
“I hope that shows her where I get my inspiration from,” Peter says of their time in the sun-soaked arena that is his parents’ yard.
“It just meant so much to me,” Madison informs the camera later. As she speaks such lines, one studies her eyes, counting her blinks and measuring their length, short and long, now short-short again, but she gives no sign that she speaks to us in code. She proceeds to catch a bouquet that was clearly thrown straight at her. This is what she trained for.
“I’ve always said that I want to marry someone like my dad,” she says to him. “I’m really serious about that.”
Peter, who tells her it “was the ultimate date for me,” seems perfectly happy to make her play his game, his way. It seems she has a new coach in the making.